Thursday, December 17, 2009

Merry Christmas, Rhonda.....

One day, "when the dust has finally settled and the air has quickly cleared..." (you really gotta be a Buffett oldtimer to appreciate that line) I'll lavish expensive gifts upon you and we'll have Christmases that would make Currier and Ives blush with envy. For now, Christmas will be a matter of the heart and an opportunity to spend some downtime together. I'll cook you some shrimp etouffee Christmas Eve and we'll get up Christmas morning and I'll cook you breakfast and we'll enjoy our first Christmas morning at home...although we've been in this home for 12 years now. For now, please accept these thoughts as presents from me to you:
No one..and I mean NO ONE would've hung with me through the last few years of bad health, bad self-esteem, limited ventures into public and general sadness all brought on by massive amounts of excessive weight. I lived as a recluse and forced you to do so as well. Anyone else would've bolted and left me to flounder in my misery. You stayed, you fought, you pushed and you made bad days good and good days perfect. I'll never be able to repay that.
We dated for a long time before I let you see the little crash-pad I called home. It was everything you'd think a habitat for a single man and a black Labrador Retriever would be. But it didn't scare you off...not even when you saw, oh, two or three weeks worth of beer cans stacked in my shower. I'll never, ever forget the look on your face when you came out of the bathroom and said " have empty beer cans in your shower..." You accepted my explanation that, at the time, I worked in a hot and dirty environment and every afternoon had a shower and cold Bud Light before I did anything else. Beer cans in the shower would've scared off many women...not you.
No matter how old we get, I swear there's still going to be that little girl living in your face. Every time you and your dimples huddle over a bowl of cereal on the love seat I see a little girl eating cereal and watching her Saturday morning cartoons. "Forever young" indeed. Folks think your dad robbed a cradle because your mom looks so young. I know that's going to be us one day, 'cause I'm already looking a lot older than you (not exactly the affect I was shooting for when I lost all this weight..but it has made me look my age, I think.)
If I live to be a hundred I'll never forget a boat ride we took off of Tybee Island to watch dolphins play. After a half hour or so and a hundred dolphins chasing our boat I looked over and you had tears rolling down your face. I said "Oh my God! What's wrong??" And you said "they're so just makes me cry." If I didn't know it before, I knew then I'd done very well.
I tell folks all the time "I married a Baptist Georgia fan and turned her into a Methodist Tech fan." The fact that you realized that was a transition that would make our life easier is just more proof of how perfect you are. I ain't quite conservative enough to be a Baptist and there's NOTHING in this world that could have me wearing red and black. I'm just glad we don't have to buy one of those stupid tags for our cars that says " a house divided" and has a "GT" on one half a "G" on the other....or a picture of John Wesley on one side and Charles Stanley on the other.
I'm eternally grateful that one of the lasting memories I'll have of my mother is the way her face lit up every time you walked into a room. Even after Alzheimer's began to rob her of mind and personality she never, ever wanted to hear me being anything less than adoring to you. How many times did we hear her say "TIMOTHY!" and wag her finger in my face when I started giving you a hard time about something. She knew I'd done well and, even in the last days of her life, didn't want me to blow it. The fact that she called you one of her "girls" (the same designation afforded my sisters) told us you were hers.
I really do think the hard part's over. Improved health and attitude really has me thinking we can conquer anything. I truthfully don't know what I'd do without you or how I'd be spending this Christmas without you...probably taking a hot shower and adding to my shower stall beer can collection...

Monday, December 14, 2009

I don't like Paula Deen....

or Dean..or however you spell her name. There. I said it. I don't like her!
First off, take a man and give him a cooking show and let him make as many sexual innuendos as Paula does and he'd be an outcast. Perv. Disgusting. How many times have I heard her say "When Miiiiiiiiichael tastes this he's gonna wanna spank me..." I mean the mental image alone.... She also chews with her mouth open and talks with her mouth full. I'm a native southerner and have lived in this part of the world all my life. I was raised by some very old-school southern folks. Yet I've never, ever heard anyone use the word "y'all" as much as she does. I think it's for effect so that all those folks watching her will giggle and say "Wow, they really do say 'y'all' a all the time." Worst of all, she and those pretty boy sons are bunch of (gulp) Georgia fans. But here's the biggest reason I don't like her....I'm insanely jealous of her.
Meager roots (planted in the same red clay as mine) have led to her super stardom. She's become an empire and she has a cool house with a wrap-around front porch that is within a stone's throw of some really good fishing. Admittedly, you gotta admire it. For now, though, I choose to be jealous.
The problem is that I've had a thousand dreams. And there's one common element to most of them - they all ended with me achieving some level of notoriety. Younger days I wanted to be a rock star. Getting old (and wanting to save a few brain cells for later in life) I decided I could settle for writing songs that people bought and recorded and soon I'd start hearing songs I've written on the radio. And, if I may say so, there's lots of things I hear on the radio that make me think "Hell, I write better than that!" I want to write screenplays. I want to write books that someone else turns into screenplays. I'm desperate to see characters that have lived only in my brain come alive.
Bottom-line I want to do something so well that folks recognize my name, if not my face. And, I want the financial success that comes with that level of recognition. Not because I want to build Graceland for me and my bride to live in. Not because I want expensive cars and a private jet. Truth be told, were I a zillionaire, I'd probably still be driving around in a pickup truck and fishing and playing lots of golf (I'd probably be doing that fishing off a damn big boat...but that's the only indulgence that comes to mind.) I just want that sense of.....accomplishment.
The youngest of four children and the only male child. From the time I entered this world there was a mother or a father or a sister to do for me. Even now, a grown man, I have in-laws that have entrusted me to take care of their only child and yet I'm still relying on them for too many things to mention. The occasion still often presents itself when a sister comes to the rescue in many ways. I want the day to come when folks rely on ME for something. I want folks to say "heard of Tim Freeman? He's my (brother, brother-in-law, husband, son-in-law, friend) and we're so proud of him! He takes such good care of us!"
Most of all, I want my wife to peacefully fall asleep at night without having to first figure out how in the world we're going to rob Peter to pay Paul and make ends meet for yet another month. I want to see my wife not tired and not worried. I want to see her enjoying life, not drown proofing. I want her to have a nice BMW to drive to lunch because (truth be told) she likes to drive really fast.
I missed a lot of opportunities to make my parents proud. Now, my wife's parents have made me their own and I've got a second chance to make parents proud. And to make sure my father-in-law sees his lifelong dream of visiting the Ferrari factory in Italy. I might buy him a Ferrari!
The weight was a built-in excuse for none of this to happen. The weight's now gone. Now if none of that happens it's because I really am a doofus. And if dreams come true and things happen that I want to happen...........I probably still won't like Paula Deen. That whole eating with her mouth open thing.....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

46 Years

So 46 years ago today I entered this world at Georgia Baptist Hospital down on Boulevard. It's called Atlanta Medical Center now. My wife was born there also, a couple of years later. Was there any other hospital in Atlanta birthing babies in the mid 60's? Anyway, here I sit contemplating a number. 46. FORTY-SIX. If you're talking dollars, 46 ain't a lot. If you're talking years it's much more complicated to figure out the relative size of the number 46.
I actually went out and Googled "46 YEARS." I found a thousand stories about the fact that this past November was the 46th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. I learned that Aldous Huxley ("Brave New World") died on the same day Kennedy was killed. Interesting trivia to spew during happy hour or over dinner but not really earth-shattering.
I found a story about two sisters in Garfield, Iowa who have owned a family eatery at the corner of Hwy. 69 and 170th Street for 46 YEARS. Their grilled pork tenderloin was voted Iowa's best back in 2004. I came away from that thinking "there's 170 streets in Garfield, Iowa?"
I found a website called "" where you can enter your crisis du jour and find people with whom you share these similar life experiences. Like you can type in "soccer mom who is losing sleep deciding between prime rib or fish for Christmas dinner party with other soccer moms" and you'll instantly be connected with folks fighting these same demons. So I entered "46 years old" and was told no one had started that conversation. Of course they haven't...who in the hell wants to be reminded that they're 46 YEARS old?
A guy in Germany got released from prison back in October after spending 46 YEARS in prison for (wait for it....) stealing bicycles. 46 YEARS? Really? For stealing bikes? If I'm burning 46 years of my life in the can I'm robbing some liquor stores and getting a headline: "The perpetrator takes no cash, making off only with as many half gallons of Tangueray gin as he can carry and demanding that someone fill his pockets with jars of at 11."
So, not much to be found of interest in them internets when searching 46 YEARS. So I did another search on December 3, 1963. Found that Terri Schiavo was also born on that day (God rest her soul.) Damon Berryhill (former major league catcher) shares my birthday.
Of most interest to me was a list of WABC's all-american survey for the week of December 3, 1963. Coming in at number 28 (and I'm not making this up) was "Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys" by The Cookies. Uh, did Gloria Steinem have a singing career before Ms.? Coming in at 43 was "Frosty The Snowman" by The Ronettes. It gains instant inclusion into my cool song list because it made a cameo in "Goodfellas." You know the rules - if you've made an appearance in "Goodfellas, " "The Sopranos, " or "The Godfather" you're cool enough to ice tea.
Ok, so that was a lot of useless information. I'm the king of it. I guess I'm left here grateful for the 46 years I've had and hopeful that there's many more adventures yet to come. The changes over the last year in my health have certainly given me hope to think that there are many positives on the horizon. Prior to my surgery, I really had no such hope. In fact, one of the many things that got me started on pursuing weight loss surgery was a conversation I had with my cardiologist. He looked me right in the eye about three years ago and said "I'm not using scare tactics...I'm going to tell you this because I care and you're a nice guy...but at this size, you'll never see 50." Think about my old size I'd be four years away from pushing up daisies. I'd leave behind the best, most beautiful bride a man can ever hope for, three sisters and their husbands who still take care of me and in-laws who treat me like their own. Not to mention a host of nieces and nephews who I love like they're my own children.
I've outlived some of my favorite people. My cousin Alan never had to contemplate growing old. Neither did my friend Elizabeth, one of the sweetest souls ever to grace the planet. My mom had a baby boy a year or so before she had me. When he was born he only left the hospital to be taken to the cemetery and laid to rest. Mother once told me "I'm not sure why he didn't live but if he had we may not have had you. So I'm not sure why you're here but you need to figure it out." So I guess I really should be ashamed of myself for bitching about being 46 years old...and figure it out.

"Yesterdays are over my shoulder,
so I can't look back for too long.
There's just too much to see, waiting in front of me,
and I know that I just can't go wrong..."